Have the Ballot Questions been Fairly Portrayed?

If you live in the city, chances are you have received at least one phone call and a mailer describing the two ballot questions. There was also a “tele-town hall” conducted by City Attorney Max Lohman in which several hundred people participated. These communications were part of the city’s campaign to educate the voters about the ballot issues. They were not supposed to take sides or suggest how you should vote.

Were they impartial? The Palm Beach Post didn’t think so. See: Palm Beach Gardens defends charter change flyers in wake of criticism

In the story, they quote Larry Casey, a local attorney, who thinks the flyers left out some important information.

The Flyer described Proposition One thusly:

“Proposition 1 would amend the Charter to modernize the document and bring it into compliance with State Law.” Examples they site are allowing for electronic banking, prohibiting removal of a sitting councilman by the other concilmen, and changing election scheduling so it won’t “disenfranchise military voters”. Sounds like a good thing, right?

What they don’t say is that among other things, Proposition One will also:

  • Remove the requirement for the City Manager to live in the city
  • Remove the requirement for an annual evaluation of the City Manager
  • Limit the ability of the Council to affect hiring/firing decisions
  • Remove the requirement for periodic review of the Charter
  • Allow for appointment to vacated Council positions in lieu of a special election
  • Remove the requirement for an annual audit
  • Limits the ability of electors (citizens) to initiate ordinances or resolutions that relate in any way to money/taxes/salaries

Are these the changes you would like to see? If so, vote YES. It is all or nothing though, so if you object to any of these you should vote NO.

Proposition Two would allow the Council to grant tax exemptions to current and future businesses under certain conditions. The county government has this ability and is asking to continue it in the county Proposition Two. While it adds something to the toolbox of “economic incentives” available to the city, it is one more avenue for taxpayer funds (or expected revenue) to flow to those businesses “favored” by City Government. If you are OK with that, vote YES. If you object to the government “picking winners and losers”, vote NO.

The Presidential election will see a relatively high turnout. In Palm Beach Gardens, there could be as many as 25,000 voters. Given that a typical March municipal election draws about 3,000 and many do not pay attention to city government and the result is hard to predict. Make up your own mind on these amendments and tell your friends and family about them.